Intimidation Level: Macaroons

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I stopped into Whole Foods yesterday, and of course I had to swing by the bakery section to see what they had going on. Usually there are a few vegan options, like the chocolate mousse and parfait I’ve mentioned before. But not this time. Of course I’ve got to get a chocolate fix, and my dad had settled on getting a few tartlets (which had a curd or filling that I couldn’t eat), so this led me to staring down a selection of macaroons.

I’ve tried a few of their flavors before, and I would not repeat most of them. I had a raspberry that was pretty tart, and a vanilla that had a strange flavor I can’t quite describe. But it’s pretty hard to screw up chocolate, so that’s my go to macaroon. They are a bit pricey ($1.99 each where I live), but the two chocolates I got were totally worth it (one of which is pictured above). But as much as they rock, they’re too expensive to get often. Coincidentally, my grandmother bought me a macaroon backing set (silicone mat, recipe book, and piping bag with pieces) for Christmas.

I started looking into making the macaroons myself. I bought the almond flour, some flavorings, and I already have some food coloring. But the recipe book that came with the kit doesn’t make the instructions all that clear. So I started poking around online and found a few places that have videos about making the cookies and how to fill them.

It’s never fun seeing “level: advanced” on a recipe. But I’m determined to actually make some, so I thought I’d ask if any of you have tips or experience making macaroons. Any tips fellow foodies?

Exciting new find!

There’s a reason I love bookstores: you can walk in without a book in mind and leave with exactly what you need.

One of the biggest pluses of living outside Portland is easy access to Powell’s City of Books. If you’ve never been, it’s a building that takes up a whole city block, filled to bursting with used and new books. Nirvana.

Yesterday, I spent a few hours there with my friend Jason and found this amazing book:

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The Cheesy Vegan, by John Schlimm.

It has recipes for how to make fifteen different cheeses! Plus recipes for using the cheeses you make. I may be on a budget, but after checking out some of the recipes, it became a must-buy.

Now, since it’s a brand new book for me, I haven’t tried out any of its contents. I have faith, though, that things will work out.

Anybody had any success whipping up their own dairy free/vegan cheeses? Any tips you know? Any would be much appreciated.

My pilgrimage to Williams Sonoma

Shopping with my dad is always a little dangerous. Pretty much any situation where I am shopping can be a little hairy. I am not ashamed to say I enjoy shopping, especially for kitchen gadgets and whatnot. I have done a lot better in the last few years not going overboard. But when my dad and I get together, we can justify each other’s whims and find ourselves with a much larger bag leaving the store than we anticipated when we walked in. For this reason, my mother makes us call her before we head to the checkout and explain everything we are buying. We did not do that this time.

To be fair, we only bought two things that weren’t on our “list.” We headed in knowing we were going to pick up some pumpkin bread mix (one of which I made and will share the story of soon), a jar of turkey brine mix, and the bags to brine the Thanksgiving turkey in. We got those. I ended up getting three bags of the bread mix, and tossed in a bag of carrot bread mix as well. I do not count the carrot bread mix as one of the indiscretions, but you can feel free to disagree with me.

We found the turkey brine mix and decided to pick up a jar of thyme garlic brine to do a pork loin in. Again, I do not count the second jar as an off the list buy. It is also brine, and therefore counts. Next to the brine, however, was the first piece of trouble. Braising sauce. I have never personally braised something, but I have always wanted to. This jar of delicious looking balsamic and caramelized onion sauce called to me. “Rebecca, I would be amazing on a chicken.” Yes, yes you would be. First off the list item added to our haul.

The haul (minus two more bags of bread mix). Also, that is a pumpkin from my backyard.

The haul (minus two more bags of bread mix). Also, that is a pumpkin from my backyard.

One thing you should keep in mind at this point is that I was carrying all of our stuff around the store in my arms. Williams Sonoma is not a place that has carts or baskets. Yes, I could have left what we’d picked up so far at the counter, but I have a feeling that the weight of our haul was keeping us from picking out more stuff and acted as a motivator for me to get dad to the checkout before my arms fell off.

So, with our growing cadre of items, we picked up the brine bags, and I followed my dad around the store for another five or so minutes. After watching him look at stuff we were never going to find a way to convince my mom to OK, I said I was going to stand in line and he better follow. It was there at the checkout that we he spotted our second off list item. While I was unloading my very sore arms, he walked over to the gourmet candy shelf and picked up some Sour Apple Slices candy. Now, truthfully, that is a small step outside the lines. We even mulled over getting my mom something similar for her, but decided there wasn’t anything she would really enjoy (which she confirmed when we described our choices). With all of our stuff totaled and double bagged (because even the clerk recognized how heavy it all was), we left. I will not disclose the total we reached (which mom was not thrilled with, but took much better than either of us expected).

I made my dad carry the bag out.

 

Small aside: I realized in editing this blog that I wrote Williams Sonoma wrong every time in the first pass. I always leave the ‘s’ off Williams. I do that even when I say it. Maybe they should just be William Sonoma. Too many s’s next to each other. 😉

Where has the time gone?

One minute it’s early October and I’m pleading with the weather gods to make it rain, and the next thing I know it’s pouring outside and Halloween is next week! Well, looks like I have a lot to catch you up on. There’s been a lot of work going on in the kitchen lately, though not really the food-making kind. My mom, grandma, and I sorted through boxes of my grandmother’s pots, pans, utensils, and other items to stock the island we added to the kitchen a few weeks back. For one little woman, she had a lot of kitchen stuff. Quite a bit of it is going back into storage for me to take when I move out (I will have the best stocked first kitchen!). We also pulled out some things for donation. I made a point to stay out of as much of it as possible because when you get three strongly opinionated women in a confined space, the heat can turn up quickly.

Other things to catch you up on in posts coming soon will include my trip to William Sonoma (kitchen Mecca, in my book), a family dinner at a really good Mexican restaurant, and a recipe for peppers and sausage with cornbread. Also, pumpkin spice lattes. Because they are delicious.